Hippa vs Hipaa: this is how to spell it and why

If you’ve been to the doctor’s office anytime in the last 25 years or if you work in the healthcare, insurance, or legal world, then you’ve likely heard of the HIPAA act. No, not the HIPPA act – even though it’s phonetic pronunciation would imply otherwise – and it certainly has nothing to do with any hippos. Don’t be too disappointed though. The implications of the HIPAA act do us all a favor.

HIPAA stands for, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was enacted by the 104th session of congress and was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. HIPAA’s intent was to bring healthcare privacy and security into the modern world which was quickly seeing new obstacles for patient’s confidentiality as a result of technological advancement.


Like we already briefly touched on, norms in the English language would suggest that HIPAA would be spelled like HIPPA because of how it is pronounced. Think of words like APPEAR or HAPPY. The hard “P” in these words is typically spelled with two Ps in succession. But seeing that we are dealing with an acronym, spelling norms don’t necessarily apply.

Regardless of its actual spelling, the HIPPA spelling is a common typo and misunderstanding. Even government documents and attorneys have accidentally made the mistake in the past resulting in a need for official correction and retraction. We all make mistakes sometimes.

Another way to remember the spell is to remember that it is HIP = AA. Some people remember this by the mnemonic device, It’s HIP to be Always Awesome.

What Does HIPAA do anyway?

It might be easier to remember how to spell HIPAA if you have a better understanding of what it does.

HIPAA created a national standard with the aim of protecting patients’ medical records and personal health info. It put power back into the hands of individuals to have more control over their information and records. It does this in four primary ways:

  • Ensures a patient has health insurance portability by disallowing job-lock due to pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Minimalizes healthcare fraud and abuse by regulation.
  • Creates standards for health information.
  • Assures security and privacy of all patient’s health information.

HIPAA’s Five Titled Approach

The act accomplishes its goals through five Titles. Each title establishes standards, guidelines, and regulations for various sectors of healthcare and how they correlate to employers and workers.

  • Title 1- Helps protect employees and their families to retain their health insurance coverage even when they change jobs or lose their employment.
  • Title II – Administrate Simplification Provisions (AS), This title requires the creation of national standards for electronic health care transactions and a set of national identifiers for all employees, providers, and health insurance plans.
  • Title III – Lays out the pre-tax guidelines for medical spending accounts
  • TITLE IV – Relates to standards for group health plans
  • TITLE V – Regulates life insurance policies that are company-owned and operated.

Final Thoughts

Just remember to say no to hippos. There is not double P in this phonetically confusing word. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult the acronyms long-form name, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Sometimes coming up with your own memory aid can be helpful when remember spellings.

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